November 18, 2021, is Equal Pay Day in the UK, a key date in the women’s pay equity calendar. When compared to the average man on a full-time salary, the average woman will work the rest of the year for free.
The reasons for pay disparities between men and women are numerous and include pay discrimination, the unequal division of labour at home, and employers failing to promote women.
To raise awareness about Equal Pay Day, Women on Boards UK, an organisation that promotes the acceleration of women into board-level roles, is helping them overcome another barrier to equal pay, issues with asking for pay rises.
Equal Pay Day – empowering women to ask for pay rises
When asking for pay rises, women tend to be judged more harshly than men and are less likely to get one. As a result, Women on Boards wants to help women maximise their chances of success by providing tools and tips under their #AskForMore initiative. The campaign aims to challenge gender stereotypes and empower women to become “powerful negotiators with the tools to ask for an equal pay salary increase.”
Women on Boards UK CEO, Fiona Hathorn, says: “We know that simply asking for a pay rise in the right way will not fix decades of inequality or begin to address the systemic and structural barriers surround equal pay, but we also know that women have been socialised to be uncomfortable, hesitant and even apologetic when negotiating salary.”
In honour of Equal Pay Day, she offers women six tips on asking for a pay rise:
- Negotiate your starting salary. This is often overlooked but if you negotiate a higher salary from the get-go, it can make a dramatic difference over the course of your career. In the book Women Don’t Ask it’s revealed that about 7% of women attempt to negotiate a starting salary, compared to 57% of men. However, don’t negotiate for negotiation’s sake, make sure you come prepared and ready to explain your value and why you deserve a higher salary than advertised.
- Know your worth. Understand the competitive salary for your company and your industry. Websites and platforms such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn are a great tool for this but also ask recruiters and even friends, peers, and family to validate your research.
- Build your business case. You need to learn how to advocate for yourself and how to demonstrate your value. One way of doing this is to ensure you are consistently recording your achievements – and making them known. Keep a record or an email folder of all the extra projects you have done, examples of when you have gone above and beyond, positive feedback from clients and peers. Then identify appropriate opportunities and channels to highlight your own contribution to your boss and wider stakeholders, both throughout the year and when negotiating pay.
- Highlight potential, not just performance. It’s widely acknowledged that men are judged on potential while women are judged more on past performance. To help overcome this it’s vital that you lay out your contributions but also focus on talking about what you will be tackling next.
- Gain strategic leadership experience. Seniority is a huge part of pay, and demonstrating you are a strategic leader is key to getting a promotion to those senior roles. It can be hard to get the opportunities in a large company, but Women on Boards is clear that you’re never too young to start considering your first board role. Start positioning yourself to fill boards seats at your local sports club, school or charity as early as possible in your career as it’s proven to be great for career acceleration in the long-term and will help you to stand apart from any internal competition.
- Practise! As women, asking for more can feel out of our comfort zone, so make sure you practise. Get feedback from friends and family so you feel your most confident self. Pay attention to your tone of voice and don’t use tentative language. Instead of “I was thinking of a 5% pay rise”, say “my proposal is 5% and this is why.” Resist the urge to fill the silence!
Those after more interactive information about female pay negotiation can join a free webinar hosted by Hathorn and diversity and inclusion leader Fiona Daniel on Thursday, November 25.